July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education
Engineers spend several years studying intense technical details of the processes that shape our world, yet few are exposed to classes addressing social behaviors or issues. Engineering culture creates specific barriers to addressing social science issues, such as unconscious bias, within engineering classrooms. The developed curriculum uses optical illusions, Legos, and the instructor’s vulnerability to tackle unconscious bias in a way that addresses the barriers in engineering culture that prevent engineers from learning social science issues.
Unconscious bias has documented long-term negative impacts on success and personal development. Incorporating a module into an engineering classroom that addresses unconscious bias with the aim of reducing the negative effects of bias can benefit developing engineers by improving product development and team diversity. Engineering culture fosters disengagement with social issues through three pillars: depoliticization, technical/social dualism, and meritocracy. The developed curriculum uses optical illusions and Legos as proxies to start discussions about unconscious bias. The proxies allow engineers to explore their own biases without running into one of the pillars of disengagement that limits the engineer’s willingness to discuss social issues.
The curriculum was implemented in the Fall of 2017 in an upper-division business in engineering class as part of a professional communication module. The module received qualitatively positive feedback from fellow instructors and students. The curriculum was only implemented once by the author, but future implementations should be done with a different instructor and using quantitative data to measure if the learning objectives were achieved.
Lauber, E., & Mertz, B. E. (2021, July), Implementation of a Module to Increase Engineering Students' Awareness of Unconscious Bias Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36522
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